Tampa Bay and Company, the area convention and visitors bureau, hosted the 2012 Republican National Convention’s chairman, site selection committee, and other key figures in the event's city selection process on March 29, during the group's three-day visit to the area. The C.V.B. threw a late-night finale dessert party at the Tampa Museum of Art, one of four events during the visit.
“We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner events for three days, and I wanted to do something separate from dinner, at night, when it was really dark and we could do fireworks, so it made sense to go into a separate venue for dessert,” said Susan Williams, director of services and special events for Tampa Bay and Company.
About 200 local community and business leaders joined the 24 R.N.C. representatives at the party, which followed dinner at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Local guests arrived early to cheer for the committee along the red carpeted entrance when they arrived.
Williams staged the event on the museum’s terrace, which has views of the downtown skyline. Early in the event, Pyrotecnico presented a six-minute fireworks display over the Hillsborough River, with the skyline and the University of Tampa as a backdrop.
Mise En Place, the museum’s in-house caterer, served a bevy of desserts, including passed truffles, gelato from the museum’s in-house café, and made-to-order bananas foster. The highlight was a red, white, and blue elephant cake. The company also served dessert drinks such as cappuccino milk shakes and espresso martinis.
This is the third time Tampa has been considered for the R.N.C.; the city lost bids in 2004 and 2008. According to the Tampa Tribune, selection committee chairwoman Holly Hughes said Tampa can accommodate a bigger convention than the group has ever had and she is not concerned with hurricanes or the area's lack of public transit compared to the other finalists, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. The estimated cost for hosting the event would be nearly $50 million, which would be raised through private donations, not tax dollars. A decision is expected in May.